Wrinkle Patches Aren't All They're Cracked Up to Be

13 May.,2024


Wrinkle Patches Aren't All They're Cracked Up to Be

Some folks swear by the products’ ability to smooth fine lines, particularly the so-called elevens that form between the eyebrows. “They make a massive difference, but only to my elevens and frown lines—I’ve not used them anywhere else,” says Becca Caddy, 35, a journalist based in the United Kingdom.

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Caddy says her lines aren’t age-related, but rather appeared because she went without glasses for years and squinted instead. “I’m fully aware they’re not magically getting rid of age-related lines, but must be doing a similar thing to Botox in relaxing that area that’s usually mega-tense.” 

Gwen Calais-Haase, a graduate student in Boston, found out about Frownies on TikTok. “I get so much baby Botox content that I was like, hmm, interesting alternative!” she says, referencing the trend of people in their twenties—“babies”—getting “preventative” Botox. “I was pretty dedicated [to Frownies] for three weeks” before falling off the wagon, she says.

Frownies are “similar to Botox” in that they “immobilize the underlying facial muscles through their unique design,” according to their maker. Theoretically, the patches prevent the muscles from moving, thus helping to “retrain the facial muscles to relax, release tension, and lay flat.” Other brands of wrinkle patches, such as the silicone-based SiO Beauty, work similarly, though SiO also claims that it helps the skin stay hydrated, thus “plumping” the skin and causing it to appear smoother.

Wrinkle patches require a fair amount of effort daily. Users must first wash their face, and any moisturizer must be allowed to sink in for 10 to 15 minutes before applying the patches. After massaging any fine lines for 10 to 15 seconds, the skin is ready for application. Each patch must be lightly wetted on one side. After gently separating the lines on the relevant area of the face, the user should apply the patch while pressing down with the fingers to ensure it adheres completely; the patches then harden as they dry.

Frownies recommends that people use the patches for several hours a day, preferably overnight for three to five days for shallower fine lines. Long-term results may take up to four weeks, according to the company, which advises users to wear them at least three to four nights every week to “maintain wrinkle-free skin.”

Using them is as uncomfortable as it sounds. I recently tried Frownies on my forehead and around my smile lines, and I was unable to drink water except through a straw; I couldn’t laugh, and could only mumble, as my mouth was too constricted to form words clearly. When I finally tore them off at my bathroom sink—an unpleasant experience—I was incredibly relieved. Considering that laughing, speaking, eating, and drinking all require facial movements that will inevitably result in fine lines and wrinkles, it follows that a product aimed at preventing their formation would also prevent the movements that create them. But in practice it is extremely awkward and bizarre.

“The idea of these types of products is they harden and basically stiffen, so you cannot use the muscles. So temporarily the idea is to prevent a movement, and over time to train the muscle to not move,” says Mary Stevenson, MD, an associate professor of dermatology at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine. “The results of these are temporary, and I think they’re gimmicky,” she says.

Anjali Mahto, a dermatologist based in the United Kingdom and author of "The Skincare Bible: Your No-Nonsense Guide to Great Skin" (Penguin, 2018), says she’s unaware of any data that suggests that wrinkle patches are effective. Any temporary effects “will disappear as you start to use your muscles again—a bit like an ironed piece of clothing in that it’s smooth to start with, but with wear, will become creased.” 

Should You Try Face Taping for Wrinkles?

Key Takeaways

  • Face taping, a beauty hack that’s trending on TikTok, claims to get rid of wrinkles and smooth out fine lines.
  • Experts say that face taping does not get rid of wrinkles and fine lines, but it can be a temporary way to slow the rate at which wrinkles form.
  • There are no major dangers to trying the face-taping trend, but some people may have reactions like rashes, itchiness, acne breakouts, and redness.

TikTok beauty gurus claim that putting tape on your face can combat wrinkles, fine lines, and other signs of aging. The hashtag #facetaping already has over 472 million views on the app.

One user on TikTok taped their forehead every night for a week and claimed they noticed a difference after the fourth day, saying: “It felt like my forehead was paralyzed and it became harder to lift my eyebrows after tape.” 

Another user who identified as a 52-year-old used face taping and said, “I have to admit, I don’t see the lines as much as I normally do, so maybe that’s working.” 

While trending videos are driving a recent surge in popularity, face taping has been around for decades—in fact, the first early tapes invented specifically for the purpose came out in 1889. Before you try it for yourself, here’s what experts say about face taping.

What Is Face Taping?

Murad Alam, MD, vice-chair and professor of dermatology at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, told Verywell that “face taping” is the practice of placing pieces of tape on certain parts of your face (such as your forehead and cheeks) to potentially help improve your skin’s texture and reduce fine lines and other signs of aging.

Craig Lehrman, MD, a plastic surgeon at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and director of aesthetic surgery in the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, told Verywell that putting tape on your face is supposed to keep the muscles in place which could help prevent wrinkle formation.

You can tape your face at any point in the day, but many people do it right before bed. You’re not aware of it, but your face can move quite a lot while you’re asleep. You probably even make an assortment of facial expressions while you’re dreaming.

Users on TikTok have used a variety of tape on their faces, including Scotch tape, medical tape, or kinesiology tape (which is often used for injuries). You can also buy brands like Frownies and Peace Out, which are specifically made for face taping.

Does Face Taping Stop Wrinkles? 

Lehrman said there have been no clinical trials or studies that have proven that face taping actually prevents wrinkles. However, it might provide some temporary benefits.

Craig Lehrman, MD

Wrinkles and lines are kind of a thing that happens to everyone as we eventually get older, but just taping is not the end all be all cure for wrinkles or aging.

— Craig Lehrman, MD

For example, some celebrities, performers, and entertainers use tape as a way to tighten skin and lessen the appearance of wrinkles and aging before a big event.

“People use tape for photoshoots and red-carpet events. I even had some patients use tape on the back of their necks to pull their neck skin tighter, which made them look a little bit more youthful,” said Lehrman. “But it doesn’t prevent the wrinkles from forming.”

While there’s no hard evidence of the effectiveness and health benefits of face taping, Alam said that in theory, using tape can keep the muscles in place and provide gentle pressure which could make it harder for the skin of the face to wrinkle.

“Pulling your skin tight and then taping over may—especially when you are asleep—help relax your skin in a smooth position,” said Alam. “It may also reduce how hard and often you can wrinkle, and so help prevent wrinkles or at least slow the rate at which they develop.”

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Alam said that while face taping “can help a little,” people should have reasonable expectations and use the practice reasonably—that is, not doing it too often or using too much tape.

Is Face Taping Safe? 

According to Alam, while there are no major dangers with face taping, there are some risks and side effects to consider.

For example, you may get a rash, especially if you are allergic to the adhesive in the tape or the material the tape is made of. Skin irritation, itching, redness of the skin, or even allergic reactions can also be side effects of face taping. 

Craig Lehrman, MD

There’s no real downside to slapping some tape on your face. It’s something you can put on, but prolonged use could cause irritation.

— Craig Lehrman, MD

If you are too rough with pulling off the tape or use tape that’s really sticky, Alam said you could end up pulling off a little skin with the tape and get sores or abrasions. 

Lehrman said that covering your face with tape also covers up your pores—and blocked pores can increase your risk for acne breakouts.

“There’s no real downside to slapping some tape on your face. It’s something you can put on, but prolonged use could cause irritation,” he said. “It’s like if you were to put a cast on your arm for a long time. When you take it off, you have a ton of flaking and dry skin, so it’s just not good to keep the skin completely blocked for that long.”

Do Experts Recommend Face Taping?

There are some specific times when face taping can be useful.

For example, if you need to or would prefer to avoid treatments like Botox to reduce wrinkles, taping your forehead and other areas of your face at night can be a more accessible and low-cost way to prevent the wrinkles that you already have from getting deeper.

“[Face-taping] is not as good as a neuromodulator [wrinkle-relaxing injections], but it is better than nothing,” Alam said. “If you have horizontal forehead lines that run side to side, apply strips of tape going up and down, vertically along your forehead.”

However, not all experts agree. Lehrman does not recommend face taping at all—especially since there is no real evidence that it will provide anti-aging results.

“The main takeaway is that it will not prevent wrinkles from forming. I don’t think that the benefit from these is worth the irritation,” he said. “Using it for an event or a photo shoot to stimulate a facelift is one thing, but for just general use, it’s not worth it.”

What Can You Do About Aging Skin?

When it comes to reducing wrinkles in the upper face, including the forehead, brows, and around the eyes, Alam said that the best way to reduce wrinkles is with neuromodulator injections, specifically botulinum toxin (Botox).

For the lower face, he said there are filler injections to reduce wrinkles like marionette lines and fine lines around the mouth. Chemical peels and laser treatments can also be used to remove lines and wrinkles on the face.

Since these options can cost hundreds of dollars over time and require continuous upkeep, Lehrman said there are some simpler things that you can do that could make a difference when it comes to preventing wrinkles and fine lines.

For example, lifestyle behaviors such as avoiding alcohol, smoking, and excessive sun exposure, exercising daily, sticking to a consistent skincare routine, using sunscreen, and drinking enough water are all great ways to take care of your skin.

“Wrinkles and lines are kind of a thing that happens to everyone as we eventually get older, but just taping is not the end all be all cure for wrinkles or aging,” said Lehrman. “The most important things are going to be good skin care, the right use of sunscreen, and a good healthy lifestyle.” 

What This Means For You

There’s no evidence that the TikTok face taping trend will prevent signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles, and it could cause side effects like rashes and irritation.

While there are no major risks to trying it out, experts say you should have reasonable expectations (it won’t do as much for your skin as something like Botox injections).

For healthy skin as you age, focus on your lifestyle: wear sunscreen, have a consistent skincare routine, and stay hydrated.

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